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Old 12-05-2013, 03:40 PM
 
Location: East coast
613 posts, read 892,082 times
Reputation: 306

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I've seen it all the time. Depictions, jokes in the American media about how the French are cowardly, eat cheese and surrender. It's ironic though, since France was at times among the most powerful countries militarily in many times in history. Napoleon's army, for instance, was quite a force to be reckoned with. Even today, the French are pretty tough. For instance, as a contemporary example they intervened in Mali when many countries wouldn't. The French Foreign Legion is well known for it's toughness. Why then is there the opposite perception, that the French can't put up a good fight?

Where did it start and how did it become an idea of mockery as part of popular culture? Did it start from WWII? If so, I'd find it odd that French people get singled out in history as many groups, peoples and nations have been on the losing/surrendering end at least once in their history.

 
Old 12-05-2013, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Winter nightime low 60,summer daytime high 85, sunny 300 days/year, no hablamos ingles aquí
700 posts, read 1,198,666 times
Reputation: 1129
First of all, some US Americans don't like France and the French at all.
They are typically right-wing yahoos who know nothing about the world in general, and Europe and France in particular (how could they, they never leave Kansas, and read nothing but their "holy book")
France is a country with anti-clerical attitude and strong socialist tendencies. Those 2 things are enough to enrage US right wingers, people who are "quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand" [Rush - Moving Pictures], and whose ideology is formed by a few slogans they hear on Faux "News".

Now, on to the subject of alleged French "cowardice". As you correctly pointed out, France has a long and impressive military history, from Vercingetorix to Charlemagne to Napoleon to Foch. France fought heroically, and suffered horrendous losses as recently as WWI. What happened after WWI is interesting. The hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed French soldiers caused a shell-shock, or "post traumatic stress disorder" to use watered-down current name, on a national scale.
It appears that when Germans invaded in 1940, the majority of the French did not want to go through the WWI suffering and losses again. The surprise of German panzer divisions invading Belgium and Holland to circumvent the Maginot Line added to the overall effect. While France did fight a little in 1940, it was far less it should and could have, considering its resources.
It also must be added that not all the French were happy with the quick surrender.
General Charles de Gaulle left the country to form the Free French Forces.
Thanks to his courage, France ended the war along the Russia, US and Britain in the camp of the victors, not alongside the defeated Germany and Japan.

Last edited by skiffrace; 12-05-2013 at 07:29 PM..
 
Old 12-05-2013, 06:47 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,231,639 times
Reputation: 2833
You know I find it odd that many Americans dislike the French so, for aside from some personal prejudice against the French, France have always been the allies of the United States, from the Revolutionary War, throughout the World Wars. I mean they've always been allies. Plus the French Revolution was actually partly inspired by the American Revolution, and both are staunchly anti-monarchist countries that were among the first republics in the world. The British/French rivalry is easier to understand, but now I think that is getting outdated and is more a friendly rivalry. The two have not gone to war in the lifetime of anyone living today or indeed probably their grandparents (at least 150 years).

There might be other reasons for disdain against the French - perception that they're decadent liberal socialists who hate America, the idea French and French culture is snooty, pretentious and effete. But as for French corwadice - I suppose there's a stereotype in general that the French always surrender, and in recent times have been easily overrun (twice by the Germans). I would say the idea the French are cowards is just an ignorant stereotype. America has a cult of the military - home of the free, land of the brave or whatever.
 
Old 12-05-2013, 08:19 PM
 
Location: M I N N E S O T A
14,800 posts, read 17,705,729 times
Reputation: 9029
Lol. Youtube "Jo Koy - French People"
 
Old 12-06-2013, 04:54 AM
 
Location: Pérouges
580 posts, read 677,690 times
Reputation: 1332
"Cheese eating, surrender monkeys" is one description i've read.

From what i've seen/read it isn't those that read history including WWI & WWII that make these type of statements. It's more often spoken by those that repeat what they hear without interrupting the journey from ear to mouth by passing it through a brain.

With regards to the modern French military on the whole our allies have seemed much happier to hear of our arrival than our enemies. Recognition by professionals and historians is nice whilst ignorant comments by sheeple of any nationality doesn't offend, it amuses.
 
Old 12-06-2013, 05:41 AM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
22,234 posts, read 23,652,489 times
Reputation: 8603
No idea - they're very angry, according to pigeonhole.
 
Old 12-06-2013, 06:22 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,443,775 times
Reputation: 4409
The answer is clear; The French were not willing to serve freedom fries.
 
Old 12-06-2013, 06:52 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,231,639 times
Reputation: 2833
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Blue Sky View Post
"Cheese eating, surrender monkeys" is one description i've read.

From what i've seen/read it isn't those that read history including WWI & WWII that make these type of statements. It's more often spoken by those that repeat what they hear without interrupting the journey from ear to mouth by passing it through a brain.

With regards to the modern French military on the whole our allies have seemed much happier to hear of our arrival than our enemies. Recognition by professionals and historians is nice whilst ignorant comments by sheeple of any nationality doesn't offend, it amuses.
That's pretty much it!
 
Old 12-06-2013, 07:11 AM
 
Location: Pérouges
580 posts, read 677,690 times
Reputation: 1332
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse44 View Post
The answer is clear; The French were not willing to serve freedom fries.
I'd never heard of Freedom fries so looked it up on the paragon of knowledge. Whilst vaguely interesting in itself there was this link on the same page: Anti-French sentiment in the United States

Well...
 
Old 12-06-2013, 07:27 AM
 
4,654 posts, read 3,706,945 times
Reputation: 1408
In all fairness,the french do the same thing to africans and arabs,so what goes around comes around,the french are also very prejudice in general,according to their own polls,70 to 80% of french citizens dislike their own immigrants.

The french people use some nasty words to describe americans,so it is just the boomerang effect.
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